Digressing with Sarah Kornfeld

Sarah Kornfeld is the author of What Stella Sees, and the just-released The True, a narrative non-fiction that is being published in English, Romanian and French – each with its own ending (as we discuss during our podcast episode).

Sarah is also the founder of Rising Media, a research and consulting company that serves the ecosystem of the Creative Economy (museums, policymakers, guilds, and cultural institutions) – which Sarah notes is a $2.2 trillion ecosystem.

During our podcast, she talks about the importance of abstracting the commercial aspect of art so that you’re not thinking about making a living while you’re making art. Meanwhile, there are new ways of distributing your writing (including the fact that independent publishers are now using distributors like Ingram that were previously only the province of the large, traditional publishers).

She also talks about the use of non-fungible tokens and other monetization techniques (such as the SubStack newsletter engine) that artists can use to aggregate a following and monetize their work.

A few highlights from our conversation:

– We start out with our wounds. Her father’s scarring experiences, having been at Dachau (as part of the liberating army) were formative to him – and to her. And it reinforces the idea that as much as we need art to explain trauma, we need trauma in order to create art.

– Why are artists susceptible to being conned? Why are they targets? Artists are very susceptible to being conned, perhaps because they have a high degree of empathy, and perhaps because on some level we want to be conned. We want to believe the unbelievable. And artists are targets for con artists of a particular type – we confer some kind of validation and a high social value. In other words, we’re good friends to have on Facebook.

– The Creative economy is worth $2.2 trillion. Sarah is helping artists and institutions use new platforms and tech so they can thrive in a new era of NFTs, SubStack, etc. Welcome to the blockchain, brother?

– Sarah doesn’t think about how what she’s writing will ever make her a dime, which liberates her. Has to make her money wearing a different hat – curator, business person – and keeps the art separate.

– The idea that artists have to live in poverty is a dangerous American concept that is all about controlling the artist; that we are to be punished for being who we are and having an authentic take on life.

– Professionalism around art got really intense in American in the last 20 years and it’s really held people back. Having commercial success and a taste of what the market wanted – makes you not love your work anymore.

The podcast is definitely worth a listen!

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